Yoruba Leaders’ Forum has thrown its weight behind the decision of Rivers and Lagos state governments to collect and manage Value Added Tax in their respective states, saying that is the position of the law and what the constitution says.
Coordinator of the group, George Ogunjimi, who stated this cautioned the Federal Government against usurping the functions of states through the collection of VAT.
The group marvelled at the injustice depicted in the figures presented by Governor Nyesom Wike that Rivers generated N15billion VAT in June 2021, but got only N4.7billon as allocation; Lagos, which generated over N46billion in the same month, but got just over N9billion while Kano, which generated N2.8billion also got N2.8billion as allocation.
“If that statement is true, then the Federal Government is truly promoting laziness in some states as they would not be encouraged to grow their economies. The Nigerian Constitution gives states the right to collect VAT in their territories. It is not under the exclusive legislative list. So the Federal Government, through the FIRS, should desist from usurping the functions of states. President Muhammadu Buhari swore to defend the constitution, he should not go against the letters of the constitution he swore to defend,”Ogunjimi said.
Wike while accusing the Federal Government of taking over states’ roles, had declared at a stakeholders’ meeting attended by representatives of oil companies and business owners in Port Harcourt that Rivers State government as from September 2021 will stop the Federal Government from collecting VAT from the oil-rich state.
He was reported to have said at the meeting that Rivers State money is meant for the state’s development and not “for Abuja people.”
“You can’t destroy beer in your state in the name of Sharia, yet share from VAT on beer from other states. It is hypocrisy. You cannot contribute humongous numbers during elections that can’t translate to tax earnings for your state. If they can vote, they should be able to work and pay tax,” Wike was quoted as saying.